Technology delivers high-quality health careBy: Chris Palkowski, MD
Technology we use in our daily lives can also be used to deliver high-quality health care in convenient ways. Here are a few examples that impress me about the ways health care is being delivered using smartphones, tablet computers and live video technology.
A mother who lives an hour away from a pediatric specialist at Roseville Medical Center no longer has to bundle up her kids and drive through the rain and traffic for her daughter’s appointment. She merely launches the My Doctor Online app on her smartphone and chats with the physician over a secure video connection. This couldn’t be more convenient for some families.
Lately we’ve seen our younger patients turn to video visits as a preferred method of virtual communication with their dermatologists. Some find it’s not always necessary to book an in-person appointment to show the doctor how a new acne medication is working.
Patients who have been discharged from the hospital after surgery are using video appointments to check-in with their doctor who can determine if their wound is healing properly.
Video visits are becoming increasingly popular as more people rely on smartphones and tablets for so many aspects of their lives.
When patients arrive in our emergency rooms with stroke symptoms, the ER doctors and staff must move quickly and work collaboratively. A neurologist with specialty training in stroke care — who is at another location — rapidly joins the team with high resolution video.
The neurologist can remotely control a high-resolution camera to show a close-up view of the patient, and even interact with him or her. Being part of the care team in those first few minutes is critical because the neurologist can start placing orders for treatment and medication, working virtually alongside the ER physician.
This extra set of eyes from the telestroke cart, which includes the camera and screen next to the gurney or hospital bed, provides the most expert and expeditious care — and that’s exactly what stroke patient’s need.
With the Stroke EXPRESS program (EXpediting the PRocess of Evaluating and Stopping Stroke), all Kaiser Permanente emergency departments in Northern California are equipped with telestroke carts, which include a video camera and access to scans and test results, enabling the stroke specialist to conduct a patient’s neurologic physical exam even when they are many miles away.
My KP Meds
If you’ve ever missed — or worried about missing — a dose of your medicines, the My KP Meds app was developed to help you. Its key feature allows you to set up a schedule and reminders to take your medicines. It allows you to do the same if you are a caregiver for somebody else, like your parent or your child.
The app automatically downloads your list of prescribed medications and the instructions from your physician. You can also add a photo of the pill or bottle to help identify each medication, review the dose history, and click to call for questions or advice related to symptoms or to contact your doctor. And if you are running out any of your medicines soon, you can order refills from within the app.
It’s exciting to have My KP Meds available for both physicians and patients, because we know they can keep you healthy and safe.
A person checking in with the receptionist to see his or her provider at a routine appointment is given an electronic tablet with questions about their medical history. They sit in the reception area providing answers by checking off boxes on the tablet, then their health information is transmitted directly to your chart and for your doctor to review it right before the appointment.
These Welcome Tablets save time for both the patients and providers in some of our largest departments, including Pediatrics, Adult and Family Medicine, and Mental Health.